How to Tell Your Partner You Want Couples Counseling
You are feeling disconnected from your partner. You miss feeling closer and wonder what is wrong between the two of you. You’ve tried to figure it out yourself and are frustrated or discouraged. When you try to talk about it with your partner, the conversation doesn’t go anywhere. You have no idea how to tell your partner you want couples counseling. What if you get in a big fight and it makes things worse?
As a couples counselor in Denver who specializes in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, I’ve been asked how to suggest marriage counseling to your partner a million times. Honestly, I don’t believe there are ‘right’ words that work for everyone. I do believe there is a ‘right’ message that can be effective for most people.
Before we start, it feels important to recognize that you partner may not respond to your idea with enthusiasm initially. We know there are various reasons people feel shy about engaging in couples counseling. Therefore, we want you to feel prepared for how to keep the conversation going, should your partner express concern or hesitation.
Starting the conversation by letting your partner know you care about them, and want to do your part to help the relationship grow is important. Focusing on the fact it takes two to tango will go a long way! Let them know you are interested in talking to someone who can help you better understand each other, why the two of you aren’t as close as you used to be, learn new communication tools, and figure out how to settle arguments effectively. Express your interest in identifying your own role in the ‘problems’ and that you aren’t looking to prove your partner is the problem. This will decrease the chance your partner will think you’re try to fix or change them.
it isn’t uncommon for a partner to initially respond with the recommendation that you should, instead, go to individual counseling on your own. This is a good time to let your partner know their perspective of you, and how they feel in the relationship is really important to you. If you attend therapy by yourself, the therapist will only hear your half of the story. You want the therapist to hear THEIR side of the story. Remind your partner that you want to understand them. You want to be able to hear them and since the two of you are having trouble hearing each other at home, having a therapist there to help you talk without getting stuck in the same argument-cycle would be a good thing. The reality is this: if you go to individual therapy to work on your ‘part’ in the relationship, your opportunity to have a better relationship is really limited. We want to support your partner too.
Often we hear clients say their partner doesn’t understand how it would help to talk to a stranger who ‘doesn’t know them’. They see it as a waste of time. To some people, the therapy experience is simply unfamiliar; to others, it is only helpful or necessary for those who are flawed or broken.
We understand this perspective.
Though we see it entirely differently, we do understand and appreciate these perspectives. We also know how to ease the minds of those who share these beliefs. Our couples therapists work with clients every single day who walk into our offices holding these beliefs. We know how to put your partner - and you - both at ease quickly. We will invite you both to share your story and your perspectives in a way that will build a connection between us. We know - because we see it all the time - that it will lead to a new belief about therapy. You’ll see that sharing the details of your relationship with a ‘stranger’ can be validating, relieving, helpful and even hopeful!
Lastly, we know some partners fear coming to couples counseling because they are afraid everything will be blamed on them. Of course they wouldn’t want to come to therapy if they were going to be seen as the ‘bad guy’ in the relationship.
Our job, as Emotionally Focused Therapists, is to make sure that doesn’t happen. We support you both equally and no one will feel like it’s all their fault. Our objective is to help you both feel heard and understood by each other in a way that allows you to, once and for all, understand how you’ve gotten into these patterns and how you can change them into interactions that bring closeness and connection.
Whether you are dealing with poor communication with your spouse, constant arguing, or even dealing with an affair, we are here to help. Ready to seek couples counseling? Reach out to us today and start working on bettering your relationship.